Bilic plots 'difficult' assault on Palace

LONDON • With away wins already at Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City this season, West Ham United look to add London rivals Crystal Palace to their list of victims tomorrow even though their manager Slaven Bilic expects a "difficult test".

The free-scoring Hammers are unbeaten on the road in the Premier League and the only points they have dropped on their travels were in the 2-2 draw at Sunderland on Oct 3.

West Ham are sixth in the table after eight games and have scored a joint-leading 17 goals, the same as table-toppers Manchester City and Leicester City.

Palace have also started the campaign impressively and are fourth with five wins, only two of which were at home.

Bilic has praised his counterpart Alan Pardew for reviving Palace's fortunes and has singled out Yohan Cabaye as a threat.

"It will be a difficult test for us," Bilic said at his pre-match press conference. "Palace are a good team - good in defending and great on counter-attacks. Every one of their attackers runs behind without the ball.

"Big credit to him (Pardew), because he's doing a great job. Add to that Cabaye, who can do special things. He's a top-class playmaker."

Bilic also praised his in-form midfielder Dimitri Payet, who has earned rave reviews since his arrival. The France international has been involved in seven goals from eight games.

"I think teams have given Payet attention already," Bilic said. "He plays in a position where you have to close that space. I have no worries that there will be extra attention on him. You can't stop them most of the time and that's why they are good players."

Meanwhile, newly-appointed Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce has launched a scathing attack on the fans of West Ham.

Allardyce, who left at the end of last season after four years at Upton Park, wrote in his autobiography, which is being serialised by The Sun newspaper: "My long-ball label was started by Graeme Souness... and was picked up by Arsene Wenger and Rafa Benitez.

"As soon as I was appointed manager (of West Ham) in 2011 the big debate was whether I would follow the 'West Ham way', which nobody could define, but, whatever it was, I apparently didn't play it.

"But the fans were being brainwashed into thinking that, historically, the club had a particular style of play which was akin to Barcelona, which was potty. I once called the supporters deluded and I stand by that."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 16, 2015, with the headline 'Bilic plots 'difficult' assault on Palace'. Print Edition | Subscribe